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Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair

23 January 1997
Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... Did you write it yourself?’ That is the first question any visiting journo asks HowardMarks about his autobiography, Mr Nice. Marks suppresses a yawn. The morning is not really his time. He’s in the middle of a promotional binge, late nights, dry-throat blather; the anecdotes on autopilot. By temperament he’s the contrary of ...


Duncan Campbell

19 October 1995
The Autobiography of a Thief 
by Bruce Reynolds.
Bantam, 320 pp., £15.99, April 1995, 0 593 03779 0
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... idealised forest and travelled all the way down to the polluted town.’ The publication of Reynolds’s book has coincided with the death of Ron Kray and the release from a 20-year jail sentence of HowardMarks, the Oxford graduate cannabis smuggler, now also at work on his memoirs. So here we have Britain’s best-known gangster (or half of him), the perpetrator of the best-known robbery, and the ...

Whose Bodies?

Elizabeth Lowry: ‘Tinkers’

23 September 2010
by Paul Harding.
Heinemann, 191 pp., £12.99, July 2010, 978 0 434 02084 3
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... He is 80, a retired teacher and clock repairer, and is suffering from cancer and renal failure. In the last week of his life he begins to hallucinate about his childhood in rural Maine. His father, Howard, was a travelling salesman and odd-job man until he abandoned his family one day in 1927. George, who has never understood the reasons for his father’s desertion, has led a conventionally contented ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Howard​ Hodgkin

6 July 2006
... land and cling unsteadily to twigs too fragile for their weight. They almost fall as they reach for cherries which they swallow whole. It is late on a warm afternoon. We watch the birds. The titles Howard Hodgkin gives his pictures – In a Hot Country, In a Crowded Room, Waking up in Naples, Fisherman’s Cove, In Raimund Stecker’s Garden, Come into the Garden, Maud – record their beginnings in ...


Hugh Barnes

2 May 1985
Towards the End of the Morning 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 255 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221822 4
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Sweet Dreams 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 223 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221884 4
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The Fall of Kelvin Walker 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 144 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780862410728
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Lean Tales 
by James Kelman, Agnes Owens and Alasdair Gray.
Cape, 286 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02262 8
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Stones for Ibarra 
by Harriet Doerr.
Deutsch, 214 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780233977522
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Family Dancing 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 206 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 670 80263 8
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The Whitbread Stories: One 
by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £4.95, April 1985, 0 241 11544 2
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... man – neat, sophisticated, compact; a wearer of lightweight suits and silky blue showercoats; moving over the surface of the earth.’ The arrival of Reg restores him to life’s imperfection. Howard Baker, the Swiftian hero of Sweet Dreams, is more fortunate, transported from the Highgate traffic to Heaven, a ‘golden land of opportunity’ and ‘a society so complex that everyone in it is ...

Pour a stiff drink

Tessa Hadley: Elizabeth Jane Howard

6 February 2014
All Change 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Mantle, 573 pp., £18.99, November 2013, 978 0 230 74307 6
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... Elizabeth Jane Howard had been a novelist for forty years before she published The Light Years, the first volume of the Cazalet chronicles, in 1990. The fifth and final volume, All Change, was published in 2013, and she ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: David Lean

3 July 2008
... Brief Encounter, however, is something else again. As Richard Dyer points out in his excellent BFI book on the film, it is the awkwardness of the main characters, played by Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, their touching, strangling inability either to deny their feelings or fully act on them, that makes them so compelling. This is not the luminous, high-temperature romance of the Italian movie, and ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White

19 July 2012
Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... White started writing Forgetting Elena in 1966, but it didn’t appear until 1973. It might never have been published at all had it not been for the intercession of the poet and translator Richard Howard, who was introduced to White by a friend who had met Howard at a West Village pick-up bar. Howard liked White’s manuscript, suggested revisions and eventually persuaded Random House to publish it ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Michael Andrews

9 August 2001
... to be copied to canvas sometimes shows through the paint. There are paintings by Andrews in which remnants of construction lines serve a double purpose: they are a necessary scaffolding, but also marks which demonstrate effort, in Andrews’s case that which has gone into transferring the details of an intermediate image – a postcard or photograph – to canvas. Like the hallmark on a piece of ...

Between Kisses

Peter McDonald

1 October 1987
The Propheteers 
by Max Apple.
Faber, 306 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 571 14878 6
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A Summer Affair 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Osers.
Chatto, 263 pp., £11.95, June 1987, 0 7011 3140 3
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People For Lunch 
by Georgina Hammick.
Methuen, 191 pp., £9.95, June 1987, 0 413 14900 5
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... attempts to get to grips with the candyfloss nightmare of modern America. Max Apple has several cartoon dynasties jostle for position in the commercial Promised Land of mid-Sixties America: Howard Johnson and his lifelong assistant and companion Mildred, both in their declining years, continue to drive the length and breadth of the land in search of the mysteriously (but potently) right ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1986

18 December 1986
... London, 30 January. A meeting at the Royal Court re Kafka’s Dick, now put off until September. Their next play is an adaptation by Howard Barker of Women beware women, and the production after that The Normal Heart, an American play about Aids. This is referred to at the theatre as ‘Men beware men’. New York, 14 February. Lunch ...
17 May 1984
Caste MarksStyle and Status in the USA 
by Paul Fussell.
Heinemann, 202 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 9780434275007
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... the old-time practitioners of the noble profession of arms used to exult in their triumphs on real fields of battle. Nor is Fussell very convincing about what he calls ‘Prole Drift’ – the ‘Howard Johnsonisation’ which is turning the wine of American life into Gatorade. Was it not ever thus? If Fussell thinks it’s all getting worse and worse, when does he think was the Golden Age in which ...

Over the Top

Michael Howard

8 February 1996
A Genius for War: A Life of General George Patton 
by Carlo D’Este.
HarperCollins, 977 pp., £25, November 1995, 0 00 215882 5
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... of calm – something that British generals, brought up in the tradition of the Duke of Wellington, have always taken great pains to cultivate. It was one on which Patton would have scored very low marks indeed, but he made up for it in other directions. Like his rival Montgomery he knew that he had to command, not regular professional forces, but conscripts who would be scared stiff in action and ...

Seating Arrangements at the Table of World Morality

Simon Chesterman: The guilt of nations

19 October 2000
The Guilt of Nations: Restitution and Negotiating Historical Injustices 
by Elazar Barkan.
Norton, 414 pp., £21, September 2000, 0 393 04886 1
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... four years, a debate has raged in Australia over whether the process of reconciliation between its indigenous and non-indigenous populations should include a formal apology for past injustices. John Howard, who became Prime Minister in 1996, has repeatedly rejected what he regards as an over-apologetic tendency, epitomised by certain policies of the previous Labor Government, and by references in the ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman

19 March 1998
Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... as Nick Kent and Julie Burchill, that brief pre-Thatcher Waterloo sunset in the IPC tower has taken on a rosy apocalyptic glow. These are not the uncorseted, feelgood ramblings of Sixties survivors (HowardMarks, Richard Neville et al), but the in-your-face, out-of-your-skull, trust-nobody, swallow-anything limbo that acted, it has become clear, as a curtain-raiser to the free-market excesses that were ...

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